Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal (; 19 June 1623 – 19 August 1662), was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Christian philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method.

In 1642, while still a teenager, he started some pioneering work on calculating machines, and after three years of effort and 50 prototypes he invented the mechanical calculator. He built twenty of these machines (called pascal's calculator and later pascaline) in the following ten years. Pascal was an important mathematician, helping create two major new areas of research: he wrote a significant treatise on the subject of projective geometry at the age of sixteen, and later corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science. Following Galileo and Torricelli, in 1646 he refuted Aristotle's followers who insisted that nature abhors a vacuum. Pascal's results caused many disputes before being accepted.

In 1646, he and his sister Jacqueline identified with the religious movement within Catholicism known by its detractors as Jansenism. His father died in 1651. Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he had his "second conversion", abandoned his scientific work, and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. His two most famous works date from this period: the Lettres provinciales and the Pensées, the former set in the conflict between Jansenists and Jesuits. In this year, he also wrote an important treatise on the arithmetical triangle. Between 1658 and 1659 he wrote on the cycloid and its use in calculating the volume of solids.

Pascal had poor health especially after his eighteenth year and his death came just two months after his 39th birthday.

Read more about Blaise PascalEarly Life and Education, Contributions To Mathematics, Contributions To The Physical Sciences, Adult Life, Religion, Philosophy, and Literature, Legacy, Works

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Famous quotes by blaise pascal:

    Eloquence is a way of saying things in such a way, first, that those to whom we speak may listen to them without pain and with pleasure, and second, that they feel themselves interested, so that self-love leads them more willingly to reflection upon it.
    Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)

    [Christianity] endeavors equally to establish these two things: that God has set up in the Church visible signs to make himself known to those who should seek him sincerely, and that he has nevertheless so disguised them that he will only be perceived by those who seek him with all their heart.
    Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)

    When we do not know the truth of a thing, it is of advantage that there should exist a common error which determines the mind of man.... For the chief malady of man is restless curiosity about things which he cannot understand; and it is not so bad for him to be in error as to be curious to no purpose.
    Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)

    Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie. The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.
    Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)

    We know then the existence and nature of the finite, because we also are finite and have extension. We know the existence of the infinite and are ignorant of its nature, because it has extension like us, but not limits like us. But we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because he has neither extension nor limits.
    Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)